Trouble in Scotland with renewable energy

The following piece draws on a piece by Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph, 8 Apr. 07.

....Something very odd is going on in Scotland. The Scottish parties are seeing who can make the most extreme promises about how much Scotland should rely on renewable energy.

The Labour-led Scottish Executive is pledged to produce 40% of Scotland's energy from renewables by 2020. This is twice the figure set by the EU, to which Britain is signed up.

At present, 12% comes from renewables, mainly hydro-electric schemes set up in the fifties. To raise this to 40% can only mean an enormous increase in wind turbines.

Scotland now has 640, providing about 2% of the country's power. If all the 6,000 turbines currently proposed get built, they would generate about 3,300 MW of electricity - about the same as the output of the power station at Didcot in Oxforshire. This would leave a huge shortfall when, in the next few years, Scotland loses three nuclear and coal-fired stations, which currently produce about 6,000 MW.

To reach the 40% target, 8,000 turbines would be needed, many as tall as 400ft, covering 2,000 square miles. This is 7% of Scotland's land area. Other parties want to go even further - the Lib. Dems want Scotland to be totally dependent on renewable energy by 2050.

What none of the politicians (not a scientist among them) have grasped is that unless they are happy for Scotland to go back to the age before electric light, they will also need to build enough conventional power stations to provide back-up for the three-quarters of the time when the wind is not blowing at the right speed to generate electricity. None of them seen willing to consider new (carbon-neutral) nuclear plants, so that will mean new coal and gas-fired power stations running 24 hours a day to cover for those times when the wind is not blowing.

The ruining of the landscape by these turbines will have been for nothing; these machines will not reduce Scotland's "carbon footprint" at all.

The politicians say that schemes such as the one to erect 181 giant turbines on the island of Lewis have popular support. But Allan Wilson, Scotland's Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, recently said that the Executive had received 59 representations in support of the Lewis scheme, with 11,397 against.

The Scottish people are realising that large-scale wind power is one of the hoaxes of our age.

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